An Extraordinary Woman

Posted on: 31st December, 2013

Category: Features

Contributor: West Cork People

From copytaker to woman’s editor, Maureen Fox was one of the first women journalists to work in the newsroom of the then ‘Cork Examiner’ from the early 70’s right through to the early 90’s. She had a unique style of speaking to her readers and for years her columns were among the most popular in the Examiner, generating letters from readers that poured in by the sackful. Maureen was also the first Irish print journalist to receive the prestigious Friendship Force International Peace Award for her outstanding contribution to world peace and friendship. The panel of judges included Rosalyn Carter, wife of former US President Jimmy Carter.

‘Maureen Fox, An Extraordinary Woman’, a book compiled and edited by her daughter Tanya Schleich, takes a trip back down memory lane with beautiful images and stories, starting from Maureen’s early days, her days as an actress on the stage, the charities that she championed — including her article and images from the day that she went on a blindfolded walk in Cork in 1982 with Goldie her guide dog. The book includes a selection of her well known articles, including her interview with tenor Frank Patterson, Seamus Murphy, Senator Mary Robinson and the cast of Upstairs Downstairs and of course, her famous ‘Paws Awhile’ Column — ‘written’ by her dog Ponsonby and who became as well known in Cork as Maureen herself.

Maureen had a large readership in West Cork, her daughter Tanya attended Bandon Grammar School and she spent many holidays in Bantry and the surrounding areas throughout her life. One of the articles featured in the book recalls a funny story of when she tried to buy land in Durrus in the early 80’s and also of a tale of a ‘ghostly’ experience she had when in Bantry.

As Maureen always championed many charities throughout her career and four charities have been chosen to benefit from the sales of this book and they include The Irish Guide Dogs Association, ARC Animal Rescue Cobh, The Irish Wheelchair Association and Penny Dinners in Cork.

Books are available at Hickeys Bookstore, Bandon as well as outlets in Cork and on line at The book retails for €12.99.


An extract (of specific West Cork interest) from the book 

How not to put your foot in it! (1984)

Like thousands of others before me, I’d love just a wee bit of land on the seashore – so what better opportunity to have a look around than while I was in West Cork?

As Durrus was my headquarters, it was just a question of having a drink in Paddy Barry’s pub there and eventually getting around to the question of land.

After much concentration, he told me he knew of one piece of land that would be particularly right for me and as we travelled along the road, he extolled the virtues of the area, the shocking increases in the prices of land and the fact that so much had already been sold. “Hold on Paddy” – I said, “I’m not a German or a Yank – I’m just from Cork”.

The field was beautiful, overlooking the water with panoramic views and as we walked – and Paddy talked – I stepped into a huge cow pat. My shoe was removed, trousers rolled up and as the owner were not at home, we headed back to Durrus. The smell in the car was overpowering (even the dog had has head out of the window), but it didn’t deter Paddy. We met the farmer driving towards us, so both cars stopped on the narrow lane. I hopped out, Paddy did the introductions and I made my first mistake. “How much do you want for the land” I asked.” Well ….” he replied and then there was a silence, “I don’t know now if I’m going to sell it. I hadn’t thought about it” The remains of the cow pat were hardening into my trousers, so it was decided that Paddy would ‘have a chat with him later on’.

Now there is a recession countrywide, but somehow in rural areas there are better opportunities for keeping the wolf from the door. A king of diversification, Paddy told me that he was starting up a new business and suggested that I look in the front window of his house. There, in his sitting room were two large coffins, artificial wreaths and, parked nearby a hearse of antique vintage. Obviously there’s money in death, and Paddy was happy for potential customers to let ‘Barry bury you’. Actually, the more I think about it, the more I’m inclined to think that being buried by Paddy Barry would be a novel experience! At least he is not prepared to sit there and do nothing – and as for me, all I gleaned during that afternoon of land hunting was the exact price for a burial!

Incidentally, I was later given the correct format for this kind of business by a Continental who wouldn’t live anywhere else in the world but West Cork.

“Never ask a direct question” she advised, “but talk around the subject. That person will know what you are getting at, you will know that he knows, then if he doesn’t want to give you the information, he’ll ignore the topic and no one will lose face”.

I reckon that’s an art that is learned only after years of trial and error! (523)

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Wave to Mary! 65-year-old Mary Nolan Hickey is running around the entire coast of the Island of Ireland to raise funds & awareness for the RNLI and is currently running the roads of West Cork.

Mary is the only woman to have completed every single Dublin Marathon (all 38 of them). She’s also completed the grueling Marathon des Sables in the Sahara Desert, known as the ‘toughest foot race on earth’.

To mark her 50th year involved in Athletics Mary is taking on her biggest challenge yet (even though she thought she’d already done that when completing the Dublin Marathon when she was over six months pregnant!) She wants to raise as much money as possible for the RNLI.

Mary started her epic journey in Arklow, Co. Wicklow, on New Year’s Day. She aims to cover up to 5000 kilometers, using coastal routes, over the next five months. She hopes to get back in time to get her first pension payment in June when she turns 66.

Mary will stop off at as many RNLI stations as possible, on her once in a lifetime adventure. As far as she knows no other woman has ever taken on this challenge.

Speaking about her journey Mary said:

“I wanted to prove that age not a barrier. Coming from a coastal town I have a deep affinity with our local RNLI station & volunteers and have huge admiration for the brave men and women who risk their lives to save lives at sea”.

Mary, who’s depending on the goodwill of communities along her route for accommodation, has been astounded by the response so far. “The support has been overwhelming,” she said. “I have met the most amazing and encouraging people along the way”.

To see more about Mary’s adventures, and to pinpoint her location today, check out her Facebook page - rnlilapofthemap2018.
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20th March, 2018  ·  


This Saturday the 10th March, will see some magically curious activity as local Bandon national schools compete in a Wizarding Harry Potter Quiz. The prize will be the beautiful Bandon Banshee Perpetual Cup.

As any Harry Potter enthusiast knows, Bandon has the unique honour of having a character named after the town. The Bandon Banshee, was referred to as the nemesis of Gilderoy Lockhart in the Chamber of Secrets. The book grossed €60 million in sales and was the 7th highest earning film of all time.

Locals, looking to enhance the town for young people, saw the quiz as an ideal way promote the connection. The universally absorbing book series brings young readers on a huge adventure of magic, adversity and triumph. It is also an exploration of loyalty and friendship, good and evil – so it is not only popular way to engage young people, it is a hugely positive connection.

Zoe Tennyson, one of the organisers said they were delighted with the response from schools who ran a qualifying quiz as part of World Book Day. On Saturday Bandon Town Hall will be transformed into Hogwarts Great Hall, with proceeds going Bandon Playground Group, and to cover costs of the event.

Bandon Books will be rewarding the winning team with vouchers to each of the five members. The Bandon Banshee, or Bean-sidhe na Bandaan Perpetual Cup will be hotly contested – but which school will the Banshee go to??

If you have any questions please call Marguerite McQuaid on 087 900 9494
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8th March, 2018  ·  

Ballineen Foróige Young Engineers Exhibition 23 February 2018

The inaugural Ballineen Foróige Young Engineers Exhibition will take place in Gort Mhuire Hall in Ballineen this Friday 23rd February. As part of Engineers Week 2018, leaders and members of Ballineen Foróige Club have organised an exhibition which will showcase a diverse and exciting range of engineering projects that have been undertaken by members of the club over the last few weeks, with the aid of leaders and a number of local engineers.

With the aid of local pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly, along with the support of STEAM Education, a UCC based company focused on promoting science, technology, engineering, arts, and maths subjects in primary schools, Ballineen Foróige has been engaging members and leaders in all things engineering over the last six weeks. From researching, designing, and prototyping a project based on local problems, to participating in various workshops on coding and careers in engineering, Ballineen Foróige have been extremely busy in preparation for the exhibition this coming Friday night.

On the night itself, Michael Loftus, Head of Engineering at CIT, Fintan Goold, Manager at Eli Lilly and All-Ireland Cork winning Footballer, along with Geraldine Coughlan of GCA Architects & Designers, a local business, will act as judges on the night, evaluating the different engineering projects and offering some advice to the members of the club. Also in attendance will be the CEO of Foróige Seán Campbell, along with a number of local councillors, TD’s and Senators.

Leading the team of Ballineen Foróige leaders organising the event, is Rebecca Dwyer, a bioprocess engineer at Eli Lilly. Rebecca recently became a leader in the club and says that Ballineen Foróige Young Engineer Exhibition 2018 “promises to be a fun, challenging and rewarding experience for all involved and we look forward to welcoming parents, relatives, friends and members of the public to the exhibition and film screening on the evening of Friday 23rd February.” Overall, there are twelve projects entered in the exhibition. One project, led by Cian Kennefick and Charlie Nolan, members of the starting out club, examines the possibility of installing speed ramps on the road near local primary school. Fourteen-year-old Charlie says he got involved in the project as it was something to do and it gets you thinking. Cian says the most exciting part of the project was the building of the prototypes.

Both Cian and Charlie, along with thirty other members of the club will display their projects this coming Friday 23 February in Gort Mhuire Hall in Ballineen. Doors open at 8pm and the event runs until 10pm. All are welcome to attend, and admission is free. Catering, including tea and coffee, will be provided on the night.
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20th February, 2018  ·  

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Main course

17th February, 2018  ·  

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